Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Managing Information - Turn Off The Fire Hose!!

I suspect that we are all suffering from information overload, or as I like to call it - drinking from the fire hose - you get to swallow a little bit of information - the rest just gets you wet.

This was brought home to me this morning when I asked friends if they got my e-mail. The answer was "which one?" followed quickly by "turn off the fire hose!!". I was overloading them with information and not doing a very good job of even telling them what information I was even talking about.

So how do we manage information in this age of always on Internet, TV news, radio, and print media? I know that my information gathering patterns have changed significantly over the years from print to audio, to video (TV), to print again (the early Internet) and now to constantly streaming pushed multimedia content (Web 2.0) that I get to customize myself, creating an information nirvana for a data junkie like myself. I must receive on average over 200 e-mails from different sources (and with multiple e-mail addresses of course), although I will admit to merely reading the Subject lines of the messages and filtering out the ones of no or little interest (or the duplicates) to my Delete folders.

And then there is my latest information goldmine - the RSS aggregator - with Netvibes I am now receiving hundreds of feeds a day. Again I am mostly looking at titles and synopses and reading only the ones I think are relevant to my interests. On top of all this e-mail and RSS information, I read the newspaper every day, watch TV news, and get information sent to me by my friends - no wonder I always feel a little damp around the edges...

I tend to share what I find with friends and colleagues. The problem is I get carried away with my own enthusiasm and turn the fire hose on full, and everyone is just too busy to go around wet all day. How do I share what I think is neat, cool, essential, or just plain hmmm... information? My filtering system seems to work for me (or am I just kidding myself and missing more than I find?). So is it blogs, RSS aggregators, Google Groups, or some yet to be seen Web 2.0 "killer app" that will let me share the information I find and not get my friends (or myself) drenched by the information fire hose? Any thoughts, any ideas?

Hmmm...

2 comments:

Kelly Christopherson said...

Michael, have you tried suprglu? I'm giving it a try to see how it works for displaying all those things that I find interesting. I also use Pageflakes. It works pretty good. My other idea is to begin using an online desktop like eyeOS or desktoptwo. That way, everything is there, you can link your ideas to a spot you develop for yourself and share with your friends.
I know that I sometimes not only feel wet around the edges but literally soaked all the time. I really think that the information overload will cause people to separate the wheat from the chaff. With all the new blogs and news information, in order to be noticed, you will have to have something that is worth reading.

Ian H. MacLeod said...

Kelly, I think that you are absolutely right. I tried Suprglu but found it slow, so when I discovered Netvibes, I switched and was hooked.

Your last point is key - even now it's the title of a blog or feed that grabs me, simply because I don't have time to read them all - no catchy title and you don't get read. I wonder how much great content I am missing? Hmmm...